Aug 242015





The year my great-great-grandmother turned eighteen, the Duke of Wellington took a pack of hounds with him from England to Spain, so he could hunt foxes while his soldiers busied themselves killing Frenchmen and raping Spanish girls. Goya, meanwhile, painted rich ladies and generals and sketched the dying as he wandered through an inside-outside hell, tormented by his deafness, by the blackening violence and by the crunching smallness of making ends meet. Back home, my great-great-grandmother was painting imaginary masterpieces and driving a pack of imaginary hounds through an imaginary Spain. And me? I stayed in Barcelona, learned Catalan, stole.

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 6:42 pm
Aug 242015



Obviously you find distractions:
the sun,
the breeze,
crass memories of the French girl’s arse
Obviously you find ways to
turn aside from what lies ahead.

The burial ground stares at the river:
the river stares back
and you decide up here
is a better place to be than down there
waiting to cross.


There are three birds, gra mo chroi, three.
The first tastes the wind like a lover,
Is nudged by her in the right direction.
The second jitters jagged, zig-zagged, spasmodic and scared.
The third just flies.

Can I sketch the bend in the Dart?
Can I sing a song about a graveyard on a hill?
I sit, Ted Hughes and my father peering over my shoulder,
As a woodpigeon creaks its purring, smoky nonsense,
Repeats the call-call-call I heard in my small room
Back when the world bewildered more than now,
Back when I wandered an Essex campsite
And realised that, just as I’d found a self, I had separated.

A woman once told me we give birth to our own parents
But, like my father, I’m easily distracted
And a wending white canoe
Twists my head away from The Breath.
This place is lovely, yes, but it’s not beautiful.
For beauty we need nobility, intimidation,
Awe and a sex so powerful
The bend in the river straightens.
This place is merely a record you like,
A girl you quite fancy,
This place is sweet and nice and soft.
The vigour of this place was buried when all the men came.

Feet apart, poised, targeting.
Men take photos because our guns are long silenced.
Each time we press the button, a little death.
Each time, an invented soul is captured.
No place for a woman.

I think this and then I think about the Thai monks
And how we resist what is
And how that’s all we need to learn. All.

There are three birds, gra mo chroi, three.
The first tastes the wind like a lover,
Is nudged by her in the right direction.
The second jitters jagged, zig-zagged, spasmodic and scared.
The third just flies.


Afterwards I poach an egg, light a fire
And I dig furrows for produce I’ll never see.
The trowel leaves something like stigmata
And we all find that funny.

 Posted by at 6:31 pm
Jul 262015



There are deckchairs here, monitored twenty-four hours a day by High-Impact Revenue-Assurance Leisure-Seating Operatives under an agreement the Royal Parks have with WeCare4U Inc, which also runs eleven mental health units in the Midlands, a factory in Bahrein that produces chilli sauce and riot shields, and a chain of supermarkets in South Wales. Apart from the now infamous ‘Look, it’s Taylor Swift!’ incident on July 22nd last year, no civilian has managed to sit in one of these deckchairs for more than ten seconds without being confronted with the legendary mumble, ‘That’llbefourquidmateinnit’.

There are trees here. Ornamental silver limes, rare black poplars, proud oaks, stern planes, sweet hawthorns. These trees club together, help create a micro-climate: Blatter-cold in summer, Qatar-hot in winter. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 3:28 pm
Jun 262015

I’ve always loved Jacques Brel’s La Chanson Des Vieux Amants. I was listening to it again the other day and started looking online for a translation. The only ones I found were really clunky, Google Translate-type things, so I decided to do one myself, drawing on the French I picked up at Lavender Road Junior School and from visiting Paris a few times. And using Google Translate. And making the rest up.

I think I might have too much time on my hands: Continue reading »

 Posted by at 4:02 pm
Jun 142015



I buy one. Red. Of course. Two blonde women – working here forever, mother and daughter – mock-fight to serve me. Two giggles. A quid to you darling.

I have a map. They’ve given me a map. I check it, discreetly: no real man needs a map. No real friend needs a map. No real lover needs… Right over in the corner – so far over it’s in Essex not London – are The Woodland Graves. Sounds like an ’80’s indie band. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 4:09 pm

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